'Red Bull knew the risk,' International Court of Appeal finds as full verdict released
Court found discrepancies in Red Bull's own fuel models; ICA ruled teams can't rely on software; World Champion's actions considered "not fraudulent" but team ordered to pay hearing costs; Merc wanted Red Bull banned for three races
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 19/04/14 11:38am
It has also emerged that World Championship rivals Mercedes called for Red Bull to be banned for three races.
Despite the World Champions publicly expressing confidence that Ricciardo's second-place finish from the 2014 season-opener would be reinstated once the ICA heard their evidence in Monday's Paris hearing, the independent panel sided with the FIA and Melbourne stewards who ruled that the driver's RB10 had contravened the Technical Regulations by running with a fuel flow in excess of the permitted 100kg/h limit.
The FIA had said that the full verdict would subsequently be released and a 13-page document was duly published on Friday giving the detail from the hearing and ruling.
With Red Bull arguing that the homologated FIA fuel flow sensor in Ricciardo's car had provided "unreliable" readings during the race, the team cited their own estimates as showing the car did stay within the fuel flow rate. The court heard that the Renault Sport V6 engine, which Red Bull are one of four teams to use, "uses software that estimates the rate of fuel flow into the injectors based on a calculation".
However, the ICA ruled that the presence of discrepancies in Red Bull's own readings during practice had counted against them in attempts to show their measurements were accurate.
"As evidence of the reliability of its fuel flow model, the Appellant provided a series of graphs,' the ICA verdict read.
"According to the Appellant, these graphs show that no changes were indicated in the FFR of its car No. 3 based on its fuel flow model, whereas FFM Sensor No. 73 had shown changes.
"It is the Appellant's view that these discrepancies prove that FFM Sensor No.73 is inaccurate. The Court noted that several graphs actually showed that parameters had changed from one lap to the other and that one cannot, therefore, conclude that the fuel flow model did not change notably during the various practice runs. On top of this, it appears that not all parameters leading to the determination of a car's FFR were shown in the graphs."
Nevertheless, the court pointed out that under Article 2.7 of the Technical Regulations Red Bull "cannot in any case simply rely on a software model to prove the compliance of its car".
As a result, the ICA concluded that "the Court finds that the Appellant did not prove that its fuel flow model estimates the fuel flow (very) accurately and/or more accurately than the FFM Sensor 73 and does not find any element in the present case that could prove that the Appellant's car No.3 did not exceed the fuel mass flow limit of 100kg/h set out in Article 5.1.4 TR [Technical Regulations]."
Red Bull's defence had centered on the argument that the Technical Directives issued by the FIA pre-season about the new-for-2014 fuel flow systems, which detailed directions as to what would happen if a sensor gave faulty readings, were outside of the official regulations.
Although the ICA agreed that such directives are "not legally binding per se", it stated that "if a competitor decides not to follow the TD, he has to accept the risk that the evidence he intends to bring as an alternative to that foreseen by the TD will not satisfy the Technical Delegate, the Stewards or, should the matter come before it, the International Court of Appeal".
"The Court notes that the Appellant obviously knew the risk of not following the TD and accepted it," the ICA added.
"Indeed, this is reflected in the transcript of its conversation over the intercom produced under No.48 of the Appellant's written grounds of appeal, where Mr Monaghan, Chief Engineer for the Appellant, said that he would defend before the Stewards the Appellant's decision not to follow TD/016-14 and to rely on the estimates of its fuel flow model."
Nonetheless, the verdict made clear that "considering the technical issues at stake and the fact that this was the first official race under this new technology, the Court does not find that the Appellant's attitude in Australia was fraudulent".
The hearing document also confirmed that Mercedes, which was one of five of Red Bull's rivals to send representatives to the hearing, had asked in their written submissions for the court to impose "a more severe sanction of a ban of no less than three races, plus a disqualification for a further 6 months, suspended for a year" on the World Champions.
As the defeated party, Red Bull were ordered to pay the full costs of the hearing.